I had one yesterday.
It just crept up on me slightly unannounced. In fact, had it not been for the few cards that plopped through my letter box, it is entirely likely I would have forgotten the whole affair until probably the weekend when I would have been in a huff for forgetting it. Anyway, I didn't. I was going to ignore the whole thing but in the end had really quite a lovely little day with no fuss.
I live fairly near the coast, so we went to the seaside. It was really quite nippy and windy so we didn't sit on the beach, but did go to the playground opposite the seafront and I showed Wriggles the big blue sea and she got to try out the swings. We also went in and out of several charity shops (I love charity shopping and bargain hunting) and for £1.98 bought four books and also a stuffed camel to post to my crackpot parents who collect them. As my treat, we went to a ceramic cafe and had a go at doing some Art together. Wriggles was not too keen. Under sufferance though, we did paint a plate full of our multi-coloured handprints which I will be able to pick up from the kiln next week and see what a mess we made of it! Two friends came round in the afternoon and eager to show off, Wriggles made my day by taking two supported sideways steps-her first attempt at cruising.
Wriggles has only had one birthday and it was a very mixed day. Obviously I wanted to celebrate her and rejoice that a year on she was here and healthy with me and had pulled through all of the bad patches. But it was also an intense day of bad memories. Her birth was not a happy occasion and the immediate period after was very fraught and traumatic, for both of us in very different ways. It isn't that I didn't want to celebrate the day she came into the world, it's just that that particular day is still very raw and there have been many happier days since. Once you get older, birthdays are far less about the birth day and far more about the person as a whole, especially for other people celebrating with you. I certainly have never thought on the way to a friend's party that this is the anniversary of their birth in anything less than the abstract sense. Birth is something which can be very idealised which in actual fact is quite primitive in that it is a sweaty, slightly gory and very physical and also emotive event that often surprises people. I find it hard to associate myself once being born years ago on my birthday, especially now having gone through birth myself.
I still feel quite separate from birth; I know I have given birth but when I hear people speak about labour or I watch One Born Every Minute there is no flicker of recognition at all and it is as if it never happened to me. It is as if it happened to another part of me that I have lost or become separated from. I'm still in the early days of parenthood but I think for me, it always will be tied in with birth. Is this just memory tidying things away or is it the subconscious burying traumatic events to dull the pain to enable you to carry on with life? Is it more common after 'birth trauma' or a difficult aftermath-I frequently wonder if I would really differently if I had had a more typical birth of get baby out-get baby placed on you for skin to skin-hold baby whenever you want. My baby was whipped away non breathing. I didn't see her for hours. I didn't know what sex she was for hours. I didn't know she was still alive for hours. I didn't hold her for days. And that all still really hurts. I don't think it won't, but I do expect it to fade over the years as her birthday becomes more about her: who she is now and what good things have happened and are yet to come. I hope I am correct!